Did it ever happen to you that whenever you start learning and after sometime when you try to think of something, the only thing that comes to your mind at first was either be the starting or the ending of the thing that you have read?
Well, the studies have called it “The Serial Position Effect”.
WHAT IS THE SERIAL POSITION EFFECT?
The Serial Position Effect describes the affect on our memory by the position of information in a sequence. It suggests that we best remember the first and last items in a series. Also, find it hard to remember the middle items. [thedecisionlab.com]
According to the definition, there are chances that you will probably remember the beginning and the ending of the information that you have read. The middle part of the information will be slightly hazy to remember. All of this is because of the information’s sequence.
However, it is mostly not the case with many people. There is no 100% guarantee for this.
WHY IT HAPPENS?
The serial position effect is caused by the primacy effect and the recency effect.
The primacy effect is the ability of our brain to remember information that is at the beginning of the series and the recency effect is the ability to remember information that is the most recent.
Let us take an example:
You are going to a grocery store and you have made a list of all the items that you have to buy. Now the things that you have written first are in your mind, this is the primacy effect and the things that you have written at the end are also on your mind, this is because of the recency effect.
It is believed that the primacy effect occurs because those items are in our long-term memory. Further, as the series continues it becomes difficult for our brain to remember things. Just like this recency effect occurs because the items are stored in our short-term memory. After all, that information is the most recent information.
That is why the items that are part of the middle series are hard to remember because they are not in our short-term memory. As the series continues it becomes hard for the brain to remember all the items. Thus, they take long enough time to store in our long-term memory also.
HOW TO AVOID IT?
Making lists for everything every time is not at all practical and is time-consuming also. One way to avoid this problem is to put your most important information at the beginning and the end. This way you have all the important information in your mind. Another way is to reorder your information every time.
For example: imagine that you are trying to remember five facts about a particular phenomenon for an exam. Instead of studying the five facts in the same order repeatedly, you might want to write down the facts in a different order the second time you go through them. That means that different items will be at the beginning, middle and end of the series, which gives you a better chance of remembering more items since more of them will have held a place at the beginning and end. [thedecisionlab.com]